This is a new school that is constantly trying to grow and establish itself in a smaller city. This being China it has gone through faster growth than it probably should have, resulting in a lot of figuring it out as we go situations but also the potential for staff to be promoted quickly. There is a lot of potential and the school campus is quite nice, if a bit out in the middle of nowhere with few options for entertainment or shopping nearby.
Unfortunately the work environment has become exceedingly toxic. The arrival of a new principal from the main campus (someone who was an English teacher before this) has led to some incredibly terrible management decisions. He has shown he only cares about what the parents think, paying as little as possible and rewarding those who are his yes-men. I'd normally expect this kind of behavior in an established school, but by acting in this way he has caused a host of issues, including:
Keeping a known child abuser (both physically and verbally) on staff simply due to the amount of degrees they hold.
Threatening foreign staff with fines, punishment and withholding of release letters if they upset him.
Constant verbal abuse of Chinese staff members who work with foreign staff about how lazy and expensive they are.
Worse than that is the complete incompetence in the school department. There's no cohesion among foreign staff, no management, and no real understanding of what is needed for foreigners to stay and a department to run. It's a perfect opportunity if you're introverted, driven and able to be neutral in the face of drama, but terrible for anyone looking for a stable work environment and a community to integrate with.
- No pay issues yet, although the principal tries to cut cost whenever possible. Make sure to check and see if the apartment is fully covered or not.
- Kids are generally lovely and class sizes are small. TA's are present but be prepared to have that taken away as staff are diverted to other jobs.
- Currently half-days but that's probably going to change.
- Quick advancement if you are white, attractive and happy to do the dancing monkey spiel.
- Chinese support staff do want to help when possible and are generally friendly.
- Horrible management. Expect schedule changes, surprise requests for demo classes and being told to figure it out on your own. Chinese managers (especially secondary) will take credit for your work and ask for personal "favors" (e.g. tutoring of friends at a discount rate)
- Support for foreign staff. Expect to fight for things like bank trips, setting up phone/internet, etc. There's no visa lady or FAO so you're on your own.
- Poor location. Not much nearby so you'll probably be leaving on the weekends.
- No real understanding of what's required, be that for flight reimburs*m*nt, required invoices, midterms/finals, etc. It can be a real nightmare.
- Upsetting the principal will cause him to personally threaten you with withholding documents and other benefits.
Advice to Management
You really need to take the time to set up management personnel and support staff to give this department more structure and validity. Move on from the mentality of, quote, "We only need teachers who can get visas, not good teachers" and, "The kids are scared of f*t foreigners and (non-white) foreigners, we need more attractive ones" and instead try to get quality people here. Your staff determine how good your school is and whether people want to stay, so cutting corners and pinching pennies doesn't make them want to renew.
166 south hailing road, Taizhou, Jiangsu, China